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Short film making during the lockdown

Hey, a quick question for you – 

 

What is your favorite short film and why? 

 

There are countless short films that have inspired millions around the world with their message and the meaning behind the cinematic experience. 

 

But the recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought a toll on aspiring filmmakers. If you are one of them, chances are that you were planning to make your own short film but the news of the lockdown broke and you had to stop everything. 

 

But do you?

 

Do you really have to stop everything even when you are staying at home? 

 

We understand that certain scenes of your short film will need to be shot with a backdrop. However, that doesn’t have to translate into you not improving your skills. 

 

The lockdown doesn’t necessarily mean that you stop working on your skills and learning new ones. 

 

With LIVE video sessions, the mentors at MyCaptain are helping people learn and break into the world of cinema even during the global pandemic. 

 

With this article, we will give you a few tips to help you create a short film while staying indoors. 

 

Let’s not begin by saying Lights, Camera, Action… 😛

 

Tips to write your script during the lockdown

The Sundance Film Festival receives approximately 12,000 films annually. Out of which, 4,000 are features and 8,000 are shorts, and only 200 get selected. 

 

This astounding fact can make any filmmaker wonder whether his/her short film is worthy enough to watch. 

 

However, there’s only one way to make sure that your film does not suck – having a good script!

 

A script acts as the blueprint of your movie and determines whether the story of your film is good or not. As a result, it is considered to be the most important part of any film. 

 

But there’s good news! 

 

Typically, you will require space and time to come up with a good script. And well, the lockdown comes with the blessing of silence, free time, and social distancing. 

 

You have all the time in the world to write your script and here are a few tips that can help you write a good one:

  • Turn off all devices and set a distraction-free time slot every day to write your script. 
  • Focus on your characters and watch how your story automatically unfolds itself 
  • Create conflict amongst your characters 
  • Give your story a foundation by using a story structure (we suggest giving Dan Harmon’s story circle a try)
  • End your story with an incredible plot 

 

In addition to the above, we recommend watching other short films and reading short stories. Our brain works and adapts according to what we see and consume. 

 

If you spend enough time amongst other stories, you will get more inspired and might even come out as a better writer. 

Tips to improve at indoor cinematography 

Let’s face it! 

 

You can’t really go outside to shoot the magic scene of sunset, neither can you shoot a car chase. 

 

But you would be surprised as to know that there are many award-winning short films that were made strictly indoors. 

 

EXIT by Dir. Daniel Zimber is one such example. Its strategic use of dialogue and direction choices is what makes this short so intense to watch. 

 

Here are some of the tips that will help you create enticing cinematography even when you are staying indoors: 

  • If your room has windows, try avoiding to shoot against it 
  • Cut the natural light by using curtains or gel sheets 
  • Take advantage of when the sun disappears but the sky stays lit. Moreover, take advantage of an hour before sunset as well as sunrise. 
  • Use particular colors to define the emotion of the scenes better. For example, if it is an energetic shot, its always better to have everything bright in the frame. 

 

When it comes to improving your camera skills, there’s only one way to do it – learning by doing. Start shooting props in your house – take montage-worthy shots of simple objects.

 

Furthermore, you can simply record somebody having a conversation in your house. This will give you an idea of how you can manipulate the emotion of a shot when you get to the post-production of your film. 

Tips that will help you edit your short film

Speaking of post-production, editing your short film is the biggest part of this phase. 

 

Editing is the process of putting your entire film together. It includes cutting unnecessary scenes, connecting the dots between various shots so that the story makes sense, and handling the visual and audio effects of the short film. 

 

Just like writing a script, editing also requires you to isolate yourself and focus on the task at hand. And well, what better time to learn all about editing than now! 

 

Here are a few editing tips to help polish your short film:

  • Remove the ambiance sound and polish your dialogue scenes by using free audio software like Audacity
  • Make sure that your audio matches your visual perfectly.
  • Use free-to-use timelapse, stock footage, and drone shots to set a premise for your shots. 
  • Manipulate options like tint, hue, and saturation to bring out the emotion of your shots
  • Don’t be too jumpy with your edits but at the same catch your audiences’ attention with them
  • Concentrate on the eyes. Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch suggests cutting a frame right before a blink because it’s a natural cutting point that works on a subconscious level.

 

Lastly, a lot of editing comes out of your gut, meaning that many professional editors follow their guts during the process. 

 

If your gut tells you something, its best to follow it! 

Learning how to make a short film

Learning is an essential part of the process. Especially, during the lockdown. 

 

We suggest spending at least one hour every day towards learning how to make a short film and then move towards making your own. 

 

Here are some free resources you can use to learn the art: 

Scriptwriting 

 

 

Cinematography

 

 

Editing

 

 

 

Filmmaking is a very personalized process and everybody goes through learning the art in a very personalized manner. There are going to be a few things that come obvious to you and some that won’t. 

 

The art of making films can be learned by making tons of films and/or by having a mentor that helps you as the problem arrives at your doorstep. 

 

MyCaptain’s LIVE Short Filmmaking Workshop connects you with award-winning filmmakers who will be ready to help you out even after this 30-day course is over. 

 

It packs with valuable lessons right from getting an idea to marketing your short film, real-life film projects, and a chance to network with other mentees and filmmakers. 

 

Filmmaking might require you to venture out into the world but it is important to keep the creative flair alive even during a pandemic. 

 

So keep experimenting and focus on learning new skills that you can use once the lockdown ends. You know, learn fresh skills to accompany the fresh air… 

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